How I Montessori (and why)

We’ve been enjoying some really fun activities over the last few weeks with the little man. We follow a very loose Montessori philosophy, as we feel that this suits our little man’s temperament and our parenting style. The principles that we follow are:

  • Milo has free choice of activities
  • Everything is neatly ordered and accessible by Milo
  • Give direction and show the way, but never ‘do it for him’.

Milo doesn’t have open shelves at the moment, but he does have some open storage in the living room. This is where we keep his building blocks and his musical instruments, although they’re long overdue for rotation now. He has an Ikea Besta unit in his bedroom, where all of his toys and activities live. He’s perfectly able to open the doors, take out what he wants, and even (GASP!) put it away again, sometimes. In Montessori fashion, we encourage his independence, and try to give him the space to work on whatever’s taking his interest at any given moment. He has a low table and a toddler chair in the living room, and he takes his trays there when he really wants to focus. Sometimes I’ll lay out and invitation to play there for him, but usually the table is empty and ready for him to choose.

He eats at the main table with us and always has. He has used a Tripp Trapp high chair from birth, first with the newborn seat and then the baby set. He now has the chair totally open, and has been able to climb up and down since around 14 months. He helps to set the table by bringing in cutlery and sauces, and tried really hard to wipe the table down after meals. He doesn’t do a great job, but he knows what to do and he just needs to practice. We always eat together, and try to include him in our conversation.

In terms of activities, I wanted to share with you some of our recent trays and toys that have really held Milo’s attention lately.

Sorting Tin and Shape BlocksThis is a little muffin tin from a children’s baking set, and three pairs of blocks from Milo’s block box. He can test his fine motor skills by transferring the blocks from the bowl to the tin, and start to match up the shapes and colours of the blocks.

Gruffalo and HairbrushAs we don’t have a pet, we’re introducing the concept of ‘care for others’ using soft toys. Milo can brush and stroke the Gruffalo, and quite often then moves onto me or Daddy E.

First Words flashcardsMilo’s language skills are really coming along at the moment, and we’re trying to encourage better pronunciation so that others can understand him. We’re lucky that he uses signs so confidently, but not everyone understands these. I’ve added some wooden play fruit so that he can match the fruit to the flashcard too, if he chooses.

Chalkboard and ChalkWho doesn’t love a good scribble? The bonus of chalk is that it’s fairly harmless. The pens and paint are kept out of reach, but I’m happy for Milo to self-direct with chalk. I’ll let you know if anything disastrous happens…

BRIO Track and TrainsI’ve noticed more and more lately that Milo is more interested in putting the track together than running trains along it, so I’ve put together a focus tray based on that. He likes the puzzle element of putting the pieces together, and the satisfaction of being able to play with it afterwards!

And of course, there are a few toys that he’s really into at the moment…

Hape Shapes and Sizes puzzle
Milo likes stacking the shapes up and then putting them all back in. He hasn’t quite got the hang of the fact that the sizes are different, but he’s starting to tell us about the shape and the colour of each piece (Angle! Booo! (Triangle, Blue)) so it’s a start.

Galt pop up guysThis week Milo’s learned how to fire the guys out of their holes properly, so now it’s a real struggle to stop them from rolling under the sofa…

Melissa and Doug Cog Caterpillar (the ‘Cog-a-pillar’)

Great for fine motor as well as logic, Milo’s starting to understand how this one works, and to match the colour of the cog to the colour of the pin. All the cogs are the same size and shape, so it’s not self correcting, but he’s getting better.

I’ve got some new art supplies and a box of threading beads stashed in the cupboard for the next rotation, so we’ll see how we go with those, but for now the main thing for me to do is tune into his interests and make sure I keep things as orderly as I can so he always knows where to find things!

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